2011-08-02

Thrift Day. The Good Stuff.

Sometimes people ask me why Hamilton has such great thrift finds... I've never found a thrift store anywhere that I didn't like (unless it's a price thing...) but Hamilton does seem to have a lot of high end merchandise. Marchesa. Cole Haan. Marc Jacobs... we're all pretty much best friends now, thanks to the local thrift store. I speculate that a lot of the good finds can be attributed to the fact that the many people who donate, drop off good stuff and the many people who shop, might not recognize these brands. That's where I swoop in and plunder...


armani

Last week however, I found out the real reason that the Hamilton thrift stores are stacked. It all started with a silk Armani bed jacket that I found at an antique store. I must have been feeling extrodinarily mature and responsible that day because I decided that if I wanted the jacket, I would have to commit and sell some of my own clothes first. In the past, I have consigned items at a cute nearby shop but because the store is so little, they are really tight on their seasonal selection and it takes weeks to get an appointment. I've made good money off items but it is a lot of work to prep the pieces, drop them off, wait 2 months, then pick up the money... Sometimes when I think about how much work it was to make sure everything was ironed and perfect, I realize I could have just worked for few extra hours instead. I wanted instant money and less effort this time, so I went to the nearest Plato's Closet.

I made some tough decisions going through my closet because I knew Plato's Closet doesn't have high pay outs and I wanted to have enough for the bed jacket. Good-bye Stuart Weitzman boots, BCBG leopard dress, French Connection top... may someone give you the love that I don't have enough room in my heart for...

You can probably predict how the story goes now... I walk into Plato's Closet and I realize that I have walked into the graveyard of F21 and h&m... Everything is really casual and my stuff doesn't fit in at all. Most of my carefully selected stuff got rejected and I made a grand total of $17... and then I spent $40 on gas 10 minutes later. Apparently a well worn pair of F21 sandals makes the cut but a leather pair of bronze Ralph Lauren flats is rejected... Yes, I wanted to yell as I stood among the racks of pilling jersey shirts, about how quality should be appreciated and about what true style really is (so humble I am...) but it was the hottest day of the year, their AC was broken and I let it be. I kid. I know now that their target market is a younger crowd and the buyers know what sells in their specific location. Lots of people have very good experiences with resale store, Mel often trades vintage clothing at resale shops and B. Jones is very successful at Crossroads but this location of Plato's Closet just didn't work out for me.

Between effort, payout and rejection, it is hardly worth it for me to re-sell my clothing. I know I could sell it online but that sounds like effort too. And we hates effort. Donation time it is...

So, if you are still wondering how loads of good stuff ended up in fine Hamilton thrift establishments across the city, you should know, it probably started with a silk Armani bed jacket.

Are you donating? Re-selling? Hoarding?

44 comments :

AppGal said...

I've had the same thing happen to me at Plato's Closet. I took a whole laundry hamper FULL of high quality stuff that I just *knew* would sell. The one thing they took? (that's right...ONE). A sleazy, cheap tank from Wal-mart. It was the one thing that I threw in the basket at the last minute thinking, "ah, they probably won't want this but I'll throw it in anyway..." Ridiculous!

I've been consigning at our only consign. store in town, but they're kind of the same way. They only want trendy stuff that the youngins like!

those tricks said...

Plato's is primarily for teens...young teens.
Crossroads/Buffalo Exchange is more 20s.
30s and up we are left with consignment and searching through vintage & thrift shops for goodies.
Maybe that can be my million dollar idea!
A franchise trade shop a la Buffalo/Plato for discerning fashionistas who are well beyond college age?

Cause yah - I even had Buffalo Exchange reject Lela Rose and Michael Kors recently. wtf?!

April said...

I'm a clothes Hoarder. I usually grow such a liking to my clothes that I don't want to give them away. So I pack them into plastic bins and "refind" them later. If I don't wear them after x amount of time, then I donate.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

Your story is so familiar to me ...I have done it many times...and sometimes returned to find the prize gone! But I think this jacket was worth the trouble though it did not have great results...there has got to be a way to thrift without so much trouble!!

GabGal said...

Interesting post! I have considered piling up some of my goods and bringing them to a Crossroads. I'm a little nervous though because I've seen things from Target there for maybe $4 less than brand new (I know they were Target, because I had the same one). I'm worrying that some of my stuff would get underpriced or rejected all together. I'm not necessarily looking to profit or anything, but I want more that $10 bucks for my Cynthia Steffe dress...

I've considered getting added to the waitlist for blogs that allow you to sell clothes, but they are so long!

Stella said...

All of the above? I never resell to local resellers, as I am weary of the effort and the fact that most of my stuff will not get bought. I resell at local markets and garage sales.

I do hoard, but I'm weeding out things as I'm not using them and it makes me feel guilty. Other people would give them a better use than me. I also donate because I support the Salvation Army and I figure that, besides shopping second hand, that's my way giving back.

Gracey said...

Plato's Closet told me my stuff was too mature. Which makes me laugh, but I understood that yeah, they were looking for Old Navy, Romeo & Juliet Couture or even BR. So, if I have stuff that I consider to be too young for me that I'm getting rid of I sell them there.

I've considered consignment shops, but I feel like I'm at the in-between age for my clothes to sell successfully there.

And we don't have a Buffalo Exchange in Salem - I'd have to drive for an hour and I'm not sure that's worth it.

So, I let my friends and family go through whatever I'm getting rid of first, and then I donate it. And I try to spread my donations out among all the thrift stores, and do the same with my shopping.

Louise said...

I do a little bit of all of the above. Some I send to the charity shop, some I sell, most I just hold on to. It depends on whether I can be bothered to list on eBay or not.

Elissa said...

Plato's Closet blows. Their market is teens and young twenty somethings eager for Abercrombie and other mall brands. They certainly don't appreciate high quality, genuine vintage. Screw them. The Buffalo Exchange here is much better, but they tend to pay out a lot more for trendy pieces. I've bought a ton of vintage there, tho. I suppose it depends on who's doing the buying the day you bring your stuff in.

I recently starting selling vintage through a high-end dealer and store owner here in Dallas. He understands what vintage is worth and looks for the same things both you and I do. He would have swooned for that Victor Costa you posted about a few weeks ago. As did I.

Renee said...

i had exactly the same experience with plato's closet! i live in the suburbs of philadelphia, around a lot of different thrift stores. plato's closet wants size 0 cheap tank tops, while the upscale thrift stores seem to only want armani suits. i was stuck in the middle with my gap dress pants, etc. i ended up building a long-term thrifting relationship with a shop in a trendy part of philly, where most of the people who live there are my age. even though it's not as convenient as other stores, my stuff sells, and that's what's most important!

-renee
www.bettycrockettrocknroll.blogspot.com

Kitty said...

I visited Plat's Closet for the first time last week. My daughter-in-law shops there regularly.

Wow - I was shocked too - to see the racks of cheap polyester/acrylic and racks of plasticky shoes. One of their buyers must have screwed up though because the one pair of leather shoes in the entire store stuck out like a sore thumb - a vintage pair of tan suede Zodiac boots in great condition and in my size!

Closet Full of Happiness said...

But at least you're getting rid of some stuff so pat yourself on the back :)

Anonymous said...

I organize my clothes into separate piles (Ebay, Plato's, Rag-O-Rama, Salvation Army). It is a lot of work, but it fuels my thrifting habit. I Ebay things like my YSL shoes; Plato's Closet my F21 stuff; and Rag O Rama my J. Crew, Anthro, etc. Anything that doesn't sell makes its way to the Salvation Army ... it's usually those in-between labels (Gap, Loft, etc.), but sometimes nobody wants to buy my Prada drivers (WTH?) and they end up there, too. That's what encourages me to dig for disgarded Marni ...

Danielle said...

I had a similar experience in Plato's Closet in Burlington. I thought I was doing them a favour bringing in my barely worn brand name clothes and they rejected most of them - including a few brand new dresses I'd bought at H&M that I decided were too low cut for me.

These days I donate most things and sell only a few items that I know have some resale value. Otherwise it's just not worth the effort.

Kyla said...

Ugh. I hate Plato's Closet. It's where 3" denim mini skirts go to die. WHO BUYS ALL THOSE SKIRTS?!?!?! Anyway, I have great success with Smashion, but I'm not sure if it's cundusive to foreigners, er ... Canadians :)

The Daily Fashionista said...

I've had a similar experience there as well. The best part was a friend of mine gave me all her old clubbing clothes (which I found to be a bit risque for a 22 year old housewife) so I figured I'd sell them. I got $50 for that crap and nothing from my own stuff. C'est la vie!

From Suns To Moons said...

This story reminded of your post about overpriced Bench merch at Value Village. I'm outraged on both accounts.

Christen said...

That jacket is completely amazing. I can't wait to see how you style it. I have often wondered how you find such good pieces at thrift stores. Then again, I realized half way through today that my ENTIRE outfit was thrfited: dress, belt, hat and shoes. Great minds. :)

Megan said...

I mainly hoard, but recently I got rid of a ton of crap from my closet and had planned on bringing it straight to donate. Along the way to Goodwill I passed a Plato's Closet (I had never been in one before but knew what it was). I went in, plopped down a garbage bag full of junky clothes - some of which hadn't even been washed - and I walked out with $30!! $30!! Are you kidding me? I grabbed that money and ran out of there. I swear I think they made a mistake. But I agree, looking around I was not impressed with the selection.

1ststatestyle said...

I hoard mostly but have been purging lately due to excessive thrifting ;) I guess all platos and buffalo exchanges are the same all over the country! I go in with a industrial size trash bag and leave with the same minus 3 or 4 items. Mostly I give my stuff away then donate what's left. But I find it hard to depart with higher end designers like Tory Burch and others especially when tags are still attached on some. How bout those clothing swaps? Any in the Philly area?????

Kari. said...

I'm a hoarder. Hoarder to the max.

Think Twice Style said...

Preach it, Yen! Plato's in Baton Rouge has the same "attitude" about nice clothes. It's definitely geared toward the teen and A&F/Hollister crowd. I brought a stack of old RL polos in and they rejected them. When I asked why, they said that "RL wasn't nice enough for the store" and that they prefer American Eagle polos. Well then...

CJ said...

I'm a size six. If you have anything that size, I'd be pleased to take your donations. ;)

The Waves said...

I hear you re: Plato's Closet. I recently took some really cool good quality stuff there, and was told that the clothes "weren't quite young enough". I was looking through their racks and found god-awful worn-to-bits plastic shoes, horrid tank tops and what must have been dozens and dozens of denim mini skirts. It beats me who agrees to pay anything for the crap that they take in and re-sell. I don't know if they might have changed their policies at some point, because two years ago I took in a bunch of stuff, and they took almost all of it and paid me $200!

cheryl said...

I have had that happen to me so many times at Buffalo Exchange here in San Diego. So I decided to try selling on eBay. I really enjoy selling my stuff there and have made good side money doing it!

http://thelittlebrunettemermaid.blogspot.com

Bri said...

What an ordeal, jeepers! Well this bed jacket is awesome, so worth it in the end, an A for effort!

girl in the poodle shoes said...

that, is a very cool jacket. I drop my seasonal stuff of at second time around and rather than do the ironing and stuff…I don't. I just bring seasonal pieces and whatever they don't take I pick up and either donate or give to a friend or keep (and maybe try to drop them off next time when a different person is working if I think they would sell). Boom, effortless (other than lugging a bag to the store and calling ahead for an appointment.). Although you don't get money instantly… but all of the places that give you money on the spot usually give you less than you would get on consignment anyway.


Girl in the Poodle Shoes
^Follow the link to visit my style blog…!

Meg said...

All the sonsignment stores here buy from suppliers, not people off the street - which doesn't really make them consignment stores, but oh well.

I donate my old clothes, but not before I let my girlfriends have a look through my bag. I recently whittled 2 garbage bags of donations down to a bag that's 2/3 full, with five happy women walking away with new-to-them clothes (including a like-new Tommy Hilfiger dress). That was a good feeling. The rest makes its way to the Sally Ann.

Please may I? said...

I keep stuff then have a mad clear out every year.

I have just bayed a load of stuff for my daughter so she can put the money towards a new phone and it amazes me how much people will pay for the cheaper brand clothing.

X x

Hooked on Shoes said...

I'm a major hoarder, it's my dirty little sin. I try to clean out my wardrobe at least once a year, and I usually donate one to two bin bags filled to the brim. But. I can only part with stuff that is either worn to much, or hasn't been worn in at least five years. If clothes are shoes are still in excellent condition, I'll see if one of my girlfriends is interested.

*Girl From Scratch said...

Plato's Closet makes my soul hurt. I've decided that I would rather cut up all my donated clothes and use them for cleaning rags then take $1 for a DVF shirt. It's not the money, it's the principle that matters!

Kat said...

Oh, that's ridiculous! Listen, I dunno if there's a Buffalo Exchange in your area but people here in Austin would love what you have to sell. I know they have some branches elsewhere, so maybe-hopefully-soon they will go to your area? They tend to like more offbeat items, so who knows, but at least their target demographic is not suburban teenagers who can't afford to buy Aeropostale at full-price. Eek.

Leah said...

Save those pieces for the swap! I am hoping to have a designer section! I hope it's not too late...

xo L.

peteandkimmybird said...

I've had the same trouble with Plato's! They took a 5 year old H&M skirt but everything else wasn't the right age range or something. I made $1 that day. Ha. (Oh and while I was waiting for them to go through my clothes, I looked around and found that everything was selected for teenagers)

Chandra said...

I host seasonal clothing exchange with my girlfriends and what ever is left we donate to a thrift store that supports the local battered women's shelter and to Dress For Success.

Anonymous said...

You should totally open and online shop to sell the clothes you don't want. Probably a good deal of up front effort but imagine the countless Armani bed jackets you could buy with that dough!!

Anonymous said...

Plato's Closet does indeed suck. I don't know if you have their sister store up there, Clothes Mentor, but where I live they are right near each other. Plato's constantly told me my stuff was too *ahem!* mature, and when CM opened they took TONS of my stuff. Like 250 bucks worth! But now every time I go they take less and less. One time they said they needed sweaters, but "nice sweaters, not you know, Gap and stuff." ooh, sorry, I didn't realize my merino sweater couldn't compete with the likes of the acrylic wonders here! I can't figure out their buying strategy, it has to to with what sizes sell and seasons and I don't know what, even though their website says they take 0-14 and all seasons all the time. Anyway, this probably is not helpful but if anyone has a Clothes Mentor near them you might try there instead of Plato's because they do take stuff that would not be worn by a 12 year old.

Sarah said...

I've had decent luck SHOPPING at Plato's Closet (I scored an amazing bebe mini dress for like 6 bucks a few years ago; it's my go-to date dress now), but they've never taken any of my clothes and have only take a few of my husband's things. I mostly donate to and shop at Goodwill in my town; there are three that are less than 15 minutes from my house. I've also browsed the Salvation Army but find that they're hit or miss - much moreso than Goodwill. We've got tons of consignment shops in the area too but I've found them to be pricier. I've scored the best deals at Goodwill. I shop at the one in a fancier neighborhood so the clothes are better, but the prices are the same as the shop in a lower tax bracket. I scored a French Connection dress for $3.38 over the weekend and Isaac Mizrahi heels for $3. Not too shabby :o)

Karla said...

I don't even know where Plato's Close is... I've gone to Buffalo Exchange but I know they would never want any of my stuff. They're picky.

I was hoarding for a while so that I could sell it on Etsy, because I LOVE shopping there. But I realized that was never going to happen. Too much effort. So I just donated all my stuff.

Someone should enjoy them. I've found way too much stuff for a steal so I figured it was only fair.

MONKEYFACE said...

Oh man, okay I'm trying to work out a scenario in my head where I send you all my F21/Target etc. crap (half of which are from the kids section) and you sell it at Plato's Closet (I don't have one here!) and we both make LOADS of money. But yeah I'll prolly just try BE and give you a virtual high five afterwards instead.

Ariel Maile Adkins said...

Oh~Plato's Closet can be so infuriating sometimes. I always have to remind myself of their target market, and only bring things that I think would suit them; otherwise, I get so frustrated! I sell a lot on ebay, and though it does require some extra work, sometimes the payback is great!

p.s. that bed jacket is amazing!

RETRO REVA said...

I too have had bad experiences and good ones, the problem is the usually aren't into 'quality' as much as newer trends, which I am usually not ready to sell yet!
Or, they are poorly made and for teens.
I absolutely LOVE that necklace and if you ever want to do a swap, let me know! I'm in!
xXx
Reva

Keira L. said...

I can't tell you how many times I've gathered up a pile of designer offerings for Plato's Closet, only to be told that my items are "too mature" and leaving with my head down, feeling rejected and old {even though I'm in my mid-20s}. Lately I've been donating to my favorite thrift stores, because I feel like it boosts my secondhand karma -- put good things in, get good things out, right?

Jeanna said...

I've had a similar experience with Plato's Closet. The one time I tried to sell things to them, I was told that my clothes were "too dressy" and "too professional." Also, apparently "too old." If you didn't buy it within the last year, they don't want it. However, they did end up buying three pieces from 2005 & I left $8.75 richer. But I doubt I'll be going back any time soon! Like you, I thought it such a shame that they could have an expertly curated resale shop, and instead opt to resell crap that I would never buy to begin with.

I will say this: I'm already jealous of the person who finds your donated items at the thrift shop!